My cucumber vines were almost dead when I came back last week from my short trip to North Carolina to visit my cousin Garner and her family. The miserable heat and lack of rain had dried them up and they lay brown and listless on the ground. I gave them a long drink with the hose and by the next morning they had perked up and had a little color. The sparse afternoon showers helped, but we have still only gotten a few cucumbers from them.
The problem is that even though the vines look better, they are not producing flowers – and without flowers, there are no cucumbers! I find that it is easy to forget this basic tenet of gardening. It doesn’t matter how big and lush the vines get, without flowers they are just another plant.
Each morning as I’ve gone out to check on their progress, I’m reminded of myself. I think of the times I have looked the part of an upstanding Christian on the outside, but in reality I was not getting enough nourishment. I can fake it for a while, but eventually, like my cucumber vines, I start to fade. Anger and negative thoughts start taking over and soon I’m not producing any fruit.
Jesus tells us this pretty clearly: I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, then you will produce much fruit. Without me, you can’t do anything. ( John 15:5)
So if I’m not spending time with God, then I’m not going to be productive in the spiritual realm. But what does it mean to produce fruit? I’ve asked myself this in the past months. Spending more time at home has made me feel un-useful. It’s easy to get wrapped up in my own little world.
But I’m seeing that if I keep studying and praying, God starts revealing ways he can use me. Yesterday I spent a few hours at my church getting supplies ready to be given out at a local school. I counted out sheets of paper into groups of 10! It didn’t feel like much of a contribution. But then I thought of the harried teacher who would get the supply boxes for her students and how that would help her out in some small way. Everything has meaning if we see it through our spiritual eyes.
Jesus tells us in Luke 6:44 that we are known by the fruit that we produce. I want my vine to be more than decorative! I want to keep my heart open to whatever seemingly insignificant job God has for me to do. I’ve found that those kind of jobs can bring the biggest harvest.
A few yellow flowers have finally emerged on my cucumber vine and I’m ready for the crunchy cucumbers to come!